Friday, January 14, 2011

The Book of Esther 2

The Book of Esther
Esther 1:1-9
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)  That in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace,  In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.

And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace;  Where were white, green, and blue, hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.b, c  And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king.  And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure.  Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.

The Royal Banquet
Esther lived during the Persian period of world history from 483 to 473 B.C.  The name Ahasuerus is the Hebrew name given this king, his Persian name was “Khshayarsha” and “Xerxes” represents his Greek name. The Persian King is referenced 175 times or more in the book of Esther but the name of God, the mention of God’s Law or any prayer worshiping Him is never referred to. This could raise some question to why was God’s apparent absence so evident in the book of Esther. We know that God’s sovereignty prevailed in saving the Jews and if He desired to be mentioned in the writing of this book, He could have moved the author to do so.  God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19
Shushan the palace or Susa was the winter residence of the king of Persia which was a fortified palace or citadel built above the city for protection. In the third year of his reign, King Ahasuerus, gave a banquet for all his princes and attendants, the army officers of Persia and Media, and the nobles and princes of the provinces surrounding him. The main theme of this banquet was to display the great riches and glory of his majesty and splendor to all his guests. Such hangings of fine linen were arrayed against marble columns, and couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones.
Beautiful golden goblets differing one from the another with royal wine in abundance was provided for all attending this great banquet. The tradition of the king in drinking has been stated that every time the king lifted his vessel, all in his presence would be required to lift their glass and drink with the king; but, there was given different instructions at this time that all should do according to every man’s pleasure. They were given the freedom to drink as much or as little as they pleased according to the word of the king.
Thoughts: Though God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, His hand is seen in the saving of the Jews. God’s character and attributes are revealed in His eternal purpose and plan for Israel whether or not His name is ever written down. May we never forget that God, through the merits of His own reputation and integrity, moves in His providential care for the eternal benefit of His people. Psalms 121:4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. 
Great riches were displayed in Shushan the palace in the presence of the people of Persia and outlining provinces as an attempt to bring glory and majesty to King Ahasuerus; but, there is only one King that deserves such glory and majesty, only one King worthy of praise and worship, only one King entitled to honor, reverence, and exaltation, He is the KING, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

History Behind the Story of Esther

There are two main characters mentioned in the book of Esther, Mordecia and Hamon. Mordecia was a Benjaminte a descendant of Saul, a Jew and Hamon was a descendant of King Agag, the Agagites being enemies of God. There was definitely a feud between Mordecia and Hamon and history revels the story and why there was such great conflict.

After the Jews exited from the land of Egypt they were attacked by a people named the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited (defeated, overthrow) Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah–nissi: For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.Their lineage began with Amalek, the son of Esau (Genesis 36:12).
Many years later, God pronounced His curse on the Amelikites and King Saul, the king of Israel, received orders to kill and destroy all the Amelikites and all that they had including their king, Agag, (I Samuel 15:1-33). Saul disobeyed God’s command that came through the prophet Samuel saving King Agag, the spoils of war, and the best of the animals. King Saul made excuses to Samuel for his disobedience: But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.  And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. King Saul lost his kingdom and incurred God’s great displeasure. Samuel, however, obeyed God and hacked King Agag into pieces utterly destroying him. Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

Because of the story of King Agag and the total annihilation of the Amelikites, Hamon carried deep hostility toward the Jews and especially towards, Mordecai. Satan has attempted ever since the fall of man to sever God’s relationship with His people and disrupt God’s covenant promises with Israel. We must remember that God is bigger than any plan that Satan may have or had.
Thought: Nowhere in the book of Esther will you find the mention of God, the name of God, or any reference to His ways or workings. The providence of God  and His divine intervention is throughout the story of Esther giving credence to the  book and to the will of God and His covenant to Israel. Be assured that God is always working in the lives of His children even when they think they don’t see His mighty hand moving.